Woman injured by taxi cannot sue for damages because of a federal law

Ken Amaro reporting, 02/16/2017

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Frances Bacon, 61, may never walk again. She was injured while getting into a taxi cab.

"I am scared to death of them," she said, "I have actually hyperventilated seeing a taxi."

Bacon is recovering from an injury that may end up costing her, her left leg.

"Everyday I have to think about losing the leg," she said. "I am about 98 percent sure I will lose it."

It happened April, 6 of last year. The cab showed up at her St. Augustine home. Her mom got in on the driver's side and Bacon went around to get into the rear passenger side, but before she could close the door the driver took off and pinned her leg under the vehicle.

"My mother started hitting the driver and told him you have run over my daughter," said Bacon.

Her leg was broken and severely damaged; she was hospitalized for two weeks.

"I just remembered going in and out of consciousness, and seeing my leg split open with the skin and muscles tendon lying there," said Bacon.

She has had four operations, which she said was painful, and she her leg is still not healed.

Bacon tried to sue the cab company and discovered a federal law; the Graves Amendment.

"You can't sue for pain and suffering," she said, "you can have someone killed and the family would not be able to sue."

Attorney Justin Stevens researched the law. He said the Graves Amendment is not pro-consumer.

"It puts consumers in a position where they're less likely to be made whole," he said.

Stevens said the law was pushed by the Enterprise Cars lobbyists and it was included in a  large transportation bill when it was approved. The Graves Amendment, named after Sam Graves, protects car rental companies, but it also covers vehicles for hire.

"The only way around it is if the claim is for negligence," he said, "like lack of maintenance, not repairing the brakes, etc."

Bacon, a retired public relations expert, is sounding the alarm. She wants consumers to contact their congressman about the Graves Amendment.

"I think the law should be repealed," she said, "I think you should be allowed to sue a company that causes you damage." 

The idea that there would be such a law that would deny your day in court she said is not American.

"I am angry that this happened," said Bacon, "and I'm angry that I can't really do anything about it."

The cab company has insurance and Bacon has hired an attorney to file a claim against its insurance company.

(© 2017 WTLV)


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